Back-to-school nutrition tips! If summer has you a little out of routine with meals and snacks, now is a good time to readjust in preparation for a new year of school.
Summer is a tricky season. It can feel both super lazy and slow but also lightning speed fast.
It may be packed with family camping trips between parent work schedules, or lots of time spent playing with the neighbor kids in the sprinklers. And then suddenly, you’re getting back-to-school supply lists and teacher assignments.
Summer can also be a time when the regular healthy family eating habits sort of go by the wayside.
Maybe sit-down meals at the table aren’t happening quite as often or kids end up having more of a free-for-all snack-time vibe.
If this sounds like your household, there’s no shame in the summer nutrition game.
But if you’re hoping to get back on track for the school year, here are some tips that can help.
1. Stock your kitchen with healthy snacks.
Kids are notorious snack monsters – especially when they come home from a long day at school.
Be sure to have healthier options available and easily accessible for kids to grab when needed.
For instance, have fresh fruit and ready-to-eat veggies (e.g. baby carrots, broccoli florets, sliced bell peppers and cucumbers) with a dip in the fridge. You might make chia pudding as part of your meal prep, which can be divided into individual cups.
The pantry also holds plenty of opportunity for healthier packaged snacks. Things like dehydrated veggie snaps, dried seaweed, popcorn and trail mix (for older kids), whole grain crackers, and dried fruit are good options.
2. Plan nutrient-dense breakfasts.
Breakfast is super important for kids after a night of fasting. Before a long day at school, they should have something substantial in their bellies.
A balanced meal in the morning helps keep kids satisfied and well-fueled. This helps enhance their attention and ability to focus at school, and provides energy for learning and playing.
Some examples of nutrient-dense breakfast include:
- Whole grain waffles with nut butter and hemp seeds
- Oatmeal with berries and soy milk
- Avocado toast with pepitas
- Fiber-rich cereal with soy or pea milk and sliced banana
- Yogurt, granola, and fruit parfaits
- Breakfast cookies
- Zucchini bread oatmeal
3. Implement sit-down dinners at the family table.
Structure around meals is super important for a child’s development – and it’s a great way to catch up with your family after a long day of everyone being in difference places.
Reduce any distractions around meal time that can take away from your time together. For instance, remove screens (including your phone) and turn off the television.
This also helps encourage mindfulness at meals. Teaching your child to be present with their food is a skill that will serve them for life.
Of course, this isn’t just a back to school nutrition tip, but it’s a great way to get back into the swing of things.
4. Include everyone in the weekly meal plan.
This is a great opportunity to involve everyone. Whether it’s in the planning and idea phase, the grocery shopping, and/or the actual food prep, everyone can have a job.
Plus, kids thrive on having a job to do, so look at this as a chance to encourage their independence.
Together you can look at the week ahead. Based on work schedules, plans with friends, who has sports practice, and other events, fill in the blanks with family meals needed.
Chime In: What are you looking forward to this school year? Do you have other back to school nutrition tips to share?
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